Practicing Zero Waste

Practicing Zero Waste

Published by Amanda on 11th Nov 2020

We love our fabrics. When we handle them, we see the effort, the resources, and the many hands that have contributed to their creation. Throwing even the smallest bit away feels disrespectful. So for a little while, we made effort to save ALL of our scraps.

It didn't take long before we had a plastic bin full, and no plan in mind. In the past we've stuffed cushions with our tiniest offcuts, but the results were lumpy, heavy, and impossible to wash.

I sorted through the fluffy, dusty, chaotic mess one day and separated out anything that seemed large enough for a quilt piece. And the remainder? I decided it was time to learn to make coiled baskets.

The internet is full of examples and tutorials, but the end products seemed more raggedy than I would like. The prettiest ones that popped up were all linked to Craft School Oz. I signed up for their Textile Coiled Baskets course, and gathered up my materials:

I love this course SO MUCH. It's beautifully organized, easy to follow, and Ruth is a no-nonsense delight. She explains in detail how to choose and handle different materials for a consistent result. It's well worth the purchase!

Basically, you choose a core material first. There are all sorts of things you can use for this - baling twine, old rope, plastic bags, mesh onion sacks. However, I wanted to keep this first one all-natural. We have a stash of blanket offcuts from our local wool mill, and I cut some long strips from them for my core. 

The core is wrapped in fabric strips (in my case, linen and hemp scraps, cut to 1" widths) which are secured with cord. For that, I chose a wool yarn (also from our local mill) that was too skinny for rug hooking. It's the only component that wasn't technically saved from the trash.

Add a pair of snips and a large-ish needle, and I was all set:

After only a little bit of swearing, this is how things progressed:

(Oh, how I love blanket stitch).

At this point, it seemed I might actually manage to make a basket! So I decided to make a Cheddah-sized basket. I measured the sleeping kitten and planned accordingly:

Sadly, I lost too much diameter when I turned up the sides, so the kitten didn't really fit. When that became clear (to both me and the disgruntled cat), I proceeded to curve the sides in a bit for stability.

And here's the finished project. A lovely yarn bowl for my next scrappy endeavour. The wool core gives it an adorable floppiness, but I think for my next attempt at a cat basket, I'll use something sturdier.

It really didn't take much fabric, and it was an easily transportable project. For the next little while, I'll make it a habit to cut tidy strips out of our scraps as we produce them, and store them all ready to go. It will be a little more efficient and much less chaotic ;)